Other features – Aside from the Piazza del Plebiscito, Naples has two other major public squares: the Piazza Dante and the Piazza dei Martiri. The latter originally had only a memorial to religious martyrs, but in 1866, after the Italian unification, four lions were added, representing the four rebellions against the Bourbons.
The San Gennaro dei Poveri is a Renaissance-era hospital for the poor, erected by the Spanish in 1667. It was the forerunner of a much more ambitious project, the Bourbon Hospice for the Poor started by Charles III. This was for the destitute and ill of the city; it also provided a self-sufficient community where the poor would live and work. Though a notable landmark, it is no longer a functioning hospital.
Subterranean Naples – Underneath Naples lies a series of caves and structures created by centuries of mining, and the city rests atop a major geothermal zone. There are also a number of ancient Greco-Roman reservoirs dug out from the soft tufo stone on which, and from which, much of the city is built. Approximately one kilometer (0.6 miles) of the many kilometers of tunnels under the city can be visited from the Napoli Sotteranea, situated in the historic centre of the city in Via dei Tribunali. There are also large catacombs in and around the city, and other landmarks such as the Piscina Mirabilis, the main cistern serving the Bay of Naples during Roman times. This system of tunnels and cisterns underlies most of the city and lies approximately 30 metres (98 ft) below ground level. During World War II, these tunnels were used as air-raid shelters, and there are inscriptions in the walls depicting the suffering endured by the refugees of that era.
Parks, gardens and villas – Of the various public parks in Naples, the most prominent are the Villa Comunale, which was built by the Bourbon king Ferdinand IV in the 1780s and the Bosco di Capodimonte, the city’s largest verdant space. Another important park is the Parco Virgiliano, which looks towards the tiny volcanic islet of Nisida; beyond Nisida lie Procida and Ischia. Parco Virgiliano was named after Virgil, the classical Roman poet who is thought to be entombed nearby. Naples is noted for its numerous stately villas, such as the Neoclassical Villa Floridiana, built in 1816.
Neo-Gothic, Liberty Napoletano and modern architecture – Various buildings inspired by the Gothic Revival are extant in Naples, due to the influence that this movement had on the Scottish-Indian architect Lamont Young, one of the most active Neapolitan architects in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Young left a significant footprint in the cityscape and designed many urban projects, such as the city’s first subway. In the first years of the 20th century, a local version of the Art Nouveau phenomenon, known as “Liberty Napoletano”, developed in the city, creating many buildings which still stand today. In 1935, the Rationalist architect Luigi Cosenza created a new fish market for the city. During the Benito Mussolini era, the first structures of the city’s “service center” were built, all in a Rationalist-Functionalist style, including the Palazzo delle Poste and the Pretura buildings. The Centro Direzionale di Napoli is the only adjacent cluster of skyscrapers in southern Europe.
Culture – Naples has long been a centre of art and architecture, dotted with Medieval, Baroque and Renaissance-era churches, castles and palaces. In the 18th century, Naples went through a period of neoclassicism, following the discovery of the remarkably intact Roman ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii.
The Neapolitan Academy of Fine Arts, founded by Charles III of Bourbon in 1752 as the Real Accademia di Disegno (en: Royal Academy of Design), was the centre of the artistic School of Posillipo in the 19th century. Artists such as Domenico Morelli, Giacomo Di Chirico, Francesco Saverio Altamura, and Gioacchino Toma worked in Naples during this period, and many of their works are now exhibited in the Academy’s art collection. The modern Academy offers courses in painting, decorating, sculpture, design, restoration, and urban planning. Naples is also known for its theatres, which are among the oldest in Europe – the Teatro di San Carlo opera house dates back to the 18th century.
Naples is also the home of the artistic tradition of Capodimonte porcelain. In 1743, Charles of Bourbon founded the Royal Factory of Capodimonte, many of whose artworks are now on display in the Museum of Capodimonte. Several of Naples’ mid-19th-century porcelain factories remain active today.
How to Get There
By plane – Naples is served by Naples Airport, also known as Capodichino Airport (IATA: NAP). Works are underway, but for the moment the airport it is not served by any rail system. From the airport you can take a bus for €3 (called Alibus) which has two stops only: Stazione Centrale (Central station) and Piazza Municipio, near the main ferry port (molo Beverello). You can buy your ticket on the bus. Further connections are listed on this page of the official website of the airport:. Some notes: The Alibus ticket is €4 if you buy it from the driver on the bus. Save €1 by purchasing it in the airport or at the Stazione Centrale from one of the shops. Note also that the Stazione Centrale stop is not right outside the train station – it’s about 200m or so down Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi. It’s difficult/impossible to see the stop from the station because of construction barriers. Exit the train station by the McDonalds, cross the street (Corso Novara) and head down the unnamed pedestrian street that parallels Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi (avoid the folks selling questionably obtained iPads). The bus stop will be on your left.
If you have time to spare, you can take the 3S bus that will take you to the same stops as the Alibus for a cheaper price. The difference is that the Alibus has limited stops but the 3S will take you to the backstreets leading to the Stazione continuing all the way to the port and a shopping district. Also, the Alibus is airconditioned whereas most 3S buses are not.
Beware of illegal, unauthorized taxis and of anyone who may approach you directly. Authorized taxis are clearly visible at the exit; fixed fares exist for a number of destinations, and must be clearly shown in the cab. Make sure they are before getting on the cab and threaten to call the police (“polizia”) should the taxi driver try to push back.
By train – The main station is Napoli Centrale – Piazza Garibaldi Station, connected to the Naples subway system. The buses R2 or 601 from the Piazza Garibaldi in front of the train station will take you within three blocks of the ferries at Stazione Marittima. Other stations include Mergellina, a magnificent Art Déco building and Campi Flegrei. The costs of trains from / to Rome vary a lot, ranging from a 10.50€ 3-hour regional train to 1-hour 10-minute high speed FrecciaRossa starting at 29€. The new high speed train Italo (provided by the private company NTV) offers competitive prices (booking in advance the price can be just 19€).
By boat – Cruise ships dock at Stazione Marittima, a large terminal located right in the city center, near Piazza Municipio.
• MedMar Group operates several large ferry/passenger ships that connect Naples with Sardinia (Olbia), Corsica (Porto-Vecchio), Tunisia (Tunis), and the Aeolian Islands. These trips usually leave in the late afternoon or evening and arrive at their destination the next morning.
• Tirrenia Navigazione operates an overnight ferry service that has two separate routes, one to Sardinia (Cagliari) and the other to Sicily (Palermo).
By car – Naples is directly connected with Rome by the A1 highway, and the trip takes generally less than 2 hours. Due to traffic jam and parking shortage in city center, it’s advisable to leave your car in a parking lot near the motorway exit or your accommodation, and to use public transportation
By bus – Many national and international private bus services operate in Naples, generally stopping at Piazza Garibaldi or Piazza Municipio.
The Roman Empire • Locations & Activities